Ivory-billed WoodpeckerCampephilus principalis

adult male
John Cancalosi/VIREO
adult male and female
Steven Holt/VIREO
Ivory-billed Woodpecker



19" (48cm) Adult male has a red hindcrest (Females and immature have black hindcrest)covered by black forecrest. This species has a long, heavy, pale yellow bill. The white secondaries and inner primaries form a white "shield" on the back.


Call a nasal kent, given in irregular series and likened to calls of Red-breasted Nuthatch; also gives a territorial double-rap: 2 knocks in very quick succession.


This majestic woodpecker was a relatively common resident of southeastern forests through early colonial times. Its numbers declined rapidly through the 18th and 19th centuries, largely because it was shot for food, novelties, and specimens, and because old-growth lowland forests, its habitat, were felled for timber. The last unquestioned photographic images of the species were taken in northern Louisiana in 1935. However, sight reports have persisted until modern times, as recently as 1999 near Slidell, Louisiana, and 2005 near Brinkley, Arkansas. Because most sightings of this species pertain in fact to Pileated Woodpecker, observers should take care to document and photograph all suspected Ivory-billeds.

Similar Species

adult male

Pileated Woodpecker

17" (43 cm). A crow-sized woodpecker. Black with white neck stripes, conspicuous white wing linings, and prominent red crest. Male has red "mustache," female has black.


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